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View Full Version : Important tips for X-Fi users (maybe audigy users too)


CaptNKILL
02-16-06, 10:04 PM
Ive been messing around with my sound settings today, mostly to get Battlefield 2 sounding better. Ive noticed that a lot of times its like the engine sounds on vehicles are totaly silent and its really irritating. I also noticed that I have yet to hear any EAX effects. I always thought that maybe it was just a gimmick and there wasnt even anything to hear... but it turns out that both of these problems are simple and common configuration problems.

I figured I should share them.

*First, the engine sound problem turned out to be a lack of bass in the center channel. What causes it? Setting the Bass-Redirection sub-crossover frequency! Yeah, this magical setting that everyone(myself included) was oogling over a few weeks back now turns out to be a major downer for games, at least on my setup. Any bass that should be redirected from the center channel to the sub: ISNT. I dont know if its a bug or what. Its really easy to test though. Just load up a game, pinpoint something that makes a constant bass sound, and then rotate. If it seems to lose its bass when youre looking directly at it, then youre experiencing the same thing I was.

In BF2 this is terrible. Engine sounds and large cannon sounds are almost all bass. This means a tank could be right in front of you, just over a hill and you wont know until you see it.
To remedy the problem, just turn off the bass redirection. Music doesnt SEEM to sound as good, but after a lot of thought I decided its probably better this way. With the redirection, you end up missing a whole frequency range of sound. Depending on your setup it could be very bad. If your system has an internal crossover of 120Hz like mine, then setting the crossover in windows to 80 means that your speakers simply arent playing anything from 80 to 120hz. With any less-expensive system, youre probably looking at a far greater range between the two (cheaper or smaller satellites cant play extremely low or extremely high frequencies, so the internal crossover will be set higher).
So yes, tweak #1 = turn off bass redirection, at least for games (many prefer it for music)

*Second, and this may be a big "DUH" for most people, but I had no idea. When your x-fi is in "game mode", youll have an option to turn EAX effects on and off, as well as an adjuster for the effect volume.
I always figured that this was just like all of my previous cards in that it just controlled the preset reverb effects that you set in windows.
WRONG :o
In multimedia mode thats all it is, but in game mode it seems to control all of your sound card's EAX effects. If its turned off, I get no cool reverb effects in BF2, even if EAX is enabled. If I turn it on (and especially when I boost the volume a tad) the effects are absolutely AMAZING. I cant believe I went this long and thought EAX was just some dumb thing I never really noticed... NOW Ive heard it and wow... Its freakin sweet.

*THIRD, and this is another DUH... CMSS 3D settings. When set to Stereo Surround, you get nice 5.1 surround from stereo games and music. Problem is, they also mess with sounds in 3d games! Many sounds in BF2 (and im sure many many other games) arent played in 3d. Instead, they are just a stereo sound that plays at a set volume. CMSS 3D settings will attempt to turn these into 3D surround sounds. This can totaly change the way a game sounds, so its a good idea to test games with this on and off to see if it hurts the experience or helps. BTW, I recommend testing with the Stereo Surround setting, it sounds far far better than stereo Xpand IMO.

Everyone should check their X-Fi config and make sure these settings are set properly when you play games.

Also, as if it wasnt obvious, make sure your EAX and sound quality settings are maxed in your games. A lot of these things are easy to miss if you dont know what to listen for, so if they get switched off somehow, you might not even notice.

Hope this helps everyone out. Im working on tweaking the BF 2 sound.con file right now. You can do a lot with it and some people have reported excellent improvements in EAX effects quality. I havent really made any advances yet though, so if anyone has any ideas to how to tweak it, post here.
The file is located in:
:\Battlefield 2\mods\bf2\Settings

jAkUp
02-16-06, 10:06 PM
See, I told you that card is great :D I'm a sucker for EAX, it just enchances the game by a huge amount.

Without it, games just sound so... flat.

superklye
02-16-06, 10:07 PM
As for all of these changes, if you make them in Game Mode, the only affect Game Mode, do they not? So, in Entertainment Mode, you can still leave redirection on, EAX settings off and CMSS3D as Stereo Xpand and experience no problems when switching over to Game Mode, because Game Mode has its own settings independent of the other two modes.

Right?

EDIT: I answer my own question because I checked and the settings for Game Mode are exactly as you said to put them and my Entertainment Mode settings are exactly the way my guide wrote to have them.

I love this card. :D

CaptNKILL
02-16-06, 10:13 PM
As for all of these changes, if you make them in Game Mode, the only affect Game Mode, do they not? So, in Entertainment Mode, you can still leave redirection on, EAX settings off and CMSS3D as Stereo Xpand and experience no problems when switching over to Game Mode, because Game Mode has its own settings independent of the other two modes.

Right?

EDIT: I answer my own question because I checked and the settings for Game Mode are exactly as you said to put them and my Entertainment Mode settings are exactly the way my guide wrote to have them.

I love this card. :D
Yeah, Im going to have to mess around with all of this stuff now. I have it sounding pretty nice right now even with bass redirection off, but I think its probably worth it to have separate settings for games and music.

CaptNKILL
02-16-06, 10:15 PM
See, I told you that card is great :D I'm a sucker for EAX, it just enchances the game by a huge amount.

Without it, games just sound so... flat.
One thing I really wish BF2 had was more distinct EAX effects when outdoors.
They are very very obvious and sound amazing when inside, but when you go outside it seems like you just turned off EAX.

Im going to tweak a lot though to see if I can get anything to change.

TheManko
02-18-06, 03:35 AM
Maybe they just got lazy when implementing EAX in Bf2? I remember Outcast from 1999 had EAX outdoors and it made a huge difference!

CaptNKILL
02-18-06, 06:18 AM
Maybe they just got lazy when implementing EAX in Bf2? I remember Outcast from 1999 had EAX outdoors and it made a huge difference!
Ahhh, Outcast... one of the best games ever made. :)

sharangad
02-18-06, 09:43 AM
If you use bass redirection on the X-Fi with a speaker which has its own bass redirection, you get a bass hole/hump, as the bass redirection frequency of the speakers and the frequency of the soundcard are different and they're both being applied at the same time.

superklye
02-18-06, 11:41 AM
I found out something rather interesting yesterday. The EAX settings volume goes across modes. I went into gaming mode and bumped it up to 12.0dB and then I noticed music was sounding really funny in Entertainment Mode.

I checked the EAX settings and they were up to 12.0dB in EM as well.

TheManko
02-20-06, 11:19 AM
I recently bought my first bookshelves and here's what the manual said about messing with tone controls.

It is worth noting that when the tone controls are turned above the neutral setting this significantly
burdens both speakers and amplifier. On a good sound system tone controls should only be used to compensate for poor recordings
and not to permanently compensate for weaknesses elsewhere in the system. So, DALI recommends that the tone controls generally be set to the neutral position, and you achieve your desired sound image through correct positioning of the speakers.
So if your bass sucks then place the subwoofer elsewhere, don't mess with the bass redirection.
I bought the speakers for 200$ and they totally rape my Logitech Z-5500 and Gigaworks S750 speakers!

J-Mag
02-20-06, 11:55 AM
CaptNKILL: What are you using fpor you speakers: headphones, 2.1, 5.1 or do you switch depending on what you are doing?

With my X-Fi, I have noticed that I prefer setting game mode to 2.1 speakers vs. headphone even though I am using headphones, which seems odd...

I also noitced when playing around with the X-Fi at first I tried Using CMSS-3d and it seemed to make the gun noise extremely flat and tinny, so I turned it off, I wonder if this had something to do with the Bass redirection. Does the bass-redirection only work when other settings are enabled?

CaptNKILL
02-20-06, 12:51 PM
CaptNKILL: What are you using fpor you speakers: headphones, 2.1, 5.1 or do you switch depending on what you are doing?

With my X-Fi, I have noticed that I prefer setting game mode to 2.1 speakers vs. headphone even though I am using headphones, which seems odd...

I also noitced when playing around with the X-Fi at first I tried Using CMSS-3d and it seemed to make the gun noise extremely flat and tinny, so I turned it off, I wonder if this had something to do with the Bass redirection. Does the bass-redirection only work when other settings are enabled?
Im using 5.1 for my Z5500s. I never use headphones.

Im not sure about the CMSS settings... Ive noticed that CMSS improves some things but causes problems with other things. And the bass-redirection should always work, regardless of what other settings you have. Id suggest turning them both off in game mode and enabling EAX. Put the EAX volume at +1 or +2 DB to enhance the EAX sounds in games too. Anything higher can make for some harsh sound transitions when you go from one EAX area to another.

TheManko
02-20-06, 01:13 PM
I'm such a nerd, so I've hanged drapes on all walls in my room and I have drapes ready to cover the windows whenever I want to game, making the room very accoustically dead, so I don't need to raise the EAX volume!

Burpy
02-20-06, 01:44 PM
I had turned off EAX in both control panel & in games since I got my X-Fi.. Well, I decided to give it a go after reading your comments.
After gaming awile I actually like having it on. :)

Will be using EAX for future games as I have a taste for it now. (nana2)

TheManko
02-20-06, 01:50 PM
When implemented properly EAX gives a much better sense of depth in the sound and luckily there aren't that many games that have a crappy implementation!

J-Mag
02-20-06, 02:03 PM
Im using 5.1 for my Z5500s. I never use headphones.


Like the pr0n loud, eh?


Im not sure about the CMSS settings... Ive noticed that CMSS improves some things but causes problems with other things. And the bass-redirection should always work, regardless of what other settings you have. Id suggest turning them both off in game mode and enabling EAX. Put the EAX volume at +1 or +2 DB to enhance the EAX sounds in games too. Anything higher can make for some harsh sound transitions when you go from one EAX area to another.

Yeah I don't use CMSS-3d in games, but I like it for MP3s and DVDs because when listening with headphones it seems to expand the sound stage.
Although, this whole bass-redirection thing, might have been the reason why I turned it off for gaming, I will check tonight, as I have never played with that setting before.